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Max The Dawg

Well this week was a crazy one and this blog is a long one...

Here’s EXACTLY what happened.

MONDAY was a normal day; started with our daily stroll... can’t say “walk” or you know who will hear you... and then Jacob came over to play through the album. Oh, we did let our drummer go that day. It seems like it was so long ago... After having the material for 2 weeks, he hadn’t had time to practice any of the songs so we decided he didn’t have time to be in a project like this and we started looking for someone else who does. So Monday when Jacob was over, Max kept coming downstairs, trying to get me to let him outside, I assumed to bark because that’s what he does, specially at the 3 dogs next door. I let him out, then he barks once to be let back in, and within 5 minutes he’s back downstairs asking to be let out again. I didn’t think much of it, just that he was being a crazy dog. Later that night, Max continued to want to go outside, which is very unlike him. It’s 1am and he’s usually sleeping by 10. We were tired and had tried to go to bed early around 1:30 or so, but he kept coming in to wake us up. By this time I was online looking up why he might be asking to go out and panting a lot at strange times. We tried to keep sleeping after calming him down, but when he started whimpering we decided it must be something serious and at 2:30am we piled in the van and went to vet emergency in Edmonton.

So it’s officially TUESDAY... We’re at vet emergency and he’s not very happy. His vitals are normal, but when the doctor sees him she says his bladder is full and could burst so they gave him a catheter. Must have felt good cause he was in a better mood already. Everything about him seemed normal, he just couldn’t pee for some reason. He would stand in the yard and strain and nothing was coming out, hence how uncomfortable he was. It’s a good thing he’s such a vocal dog. He usually barks at us in the van if he has to stop and do something, so we can understand him sometimes, though not always I guess. So they check his blood work to see if holding all that in affected his kidneys and it didn’t, so that was good. The doctor did a rectal exam (which means she stuck a finger in his bum! :O) and told me his prostate is huge, which is why he’s not peeing. The tube that carries his urine out is underneath the prostate and the tube for his poop is above, and both are blocked right now. They gave him a stool softener, an anti-inflammatory to relax his urethra, antibiotics in case it was caused by an infection, and some pain meds cause I guess it hurts to strain and strain and get nothing out. Not peeing is a symptom of either a stone, infection, cancer, or prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate due to age, just like in human men) The doctor also mentioned that he’s an old dog and it we may have to look at options for end of life care since peeing is one of the necessities of life. You can imagine how awful this sounded to me. I had a perfectly healthy dog, outside of his problematic pooping habits, only a few hours ago and now I may have to put him down!?!?!? Not good news.

So we came home and tried to sleep, but we had plans to go into Edmonton with Jacob to get his bass fixed and go check out a few shops on white ave. We got home at 7am and semi-slept until 8:30. We decided not to go into the city since we wouldn’t be much fun anyways, and went to Rob’s parents’ farm instead because Max loves it there. In my mind, this could have been his last day so we had to make it a really good one for him. At the farm Max ran around chasing birds, tried to pee, but couldn’t, but was otherwise his normal crazy self. I sent a video of him to my mom saying “does this look like a sick dog???” and decided right then that it doesn’t matter how much it will cost, we’re going to get him better. I decided not to give up on him and opted to take whatever test to find out what was wrong with him. So as Tuesday continued, Rob had to go set up for Music In The Park and Jacob agreed to drive me into the vet because we only have one vehicle (I was not about to take the huge bus into the city lol). Back at the vet a different doctor examined him. Max must have known what was coming because he backed himself into a corner of the room, but he still had to have the dreaded rectal exam lol. They did x-rays and a different type of blood work I guess to see if he had any sign of infection. The x-ray showed no stones and confirmed what we already knew; that his prostate is huge. His blood work showed no sign of infection either. They had to give him some pretty good drugs to get him to calm down for the x-ray cause he was scared, so for the rest of the night, after another catheter experience, I sat around the waiting room with a VERY high dog. I had to remind him to lay down whenever he got up because he’d start leaning and almost fell over a few times. When Rob came to pick us up after the show, he walked in and right up to Max’s face and I don’t think Max even recognized him. No tail wag or anything! The doctor talked to both Rob and I about our options going further. The things it could be at this point is cancer or prostatic hyperplasia, but because Max was neutered as a puppy the doctor said it’s very likely it’s NOT an enlarged prostate. We already knew if the tests came back saying he had cancer then we would be saying goodbye. I don’t believe in any of the mainstream cancer treatments out there, for myself or for my dog. I wouldn’t put him through that. But the research for the meds for the enlarged prostate said they worked in 6 hours through an IV and within a week when taken in pill form, so we decided there was still hope and booked an ultrasound for the next day with their specialist to find out which it was.

WEDNESDAY, we get up and go to the dog park in Edmonton. We love Hermitage park. It’s a great spot and there’s always tons of doggy friends for Max to run around with. We, again, watch him run around like a maniac, trying to pee, but unable to. Rob and I talk about all this as we walk and decide IF he has cancer, it’s not bothering him. You would think if he had cancer he would be acting sick, losing weight maybe, not eating etc. But he’s a perfectly normal dog who just can’t pee. So I go to the vet again, but this time leave Max out in the van with Rob (didn’t want to freak him out or give them an excuse to poke his bum again!) I explain to the doctor that my research showed that prostate cancer in dogs is extremely rare (about 5-6 articles said so) and the doctor told me I was wrong. Then I said, I just want to treat the enlarged prostate with the meds and see if that works - and skip the ultrasound. Max was so drugged up from the x-ray the night before that I didn’t want to put him through that again. I’m sure he slept really well, but it also made him look really sick when he wasn’t. So the doctor agreed to give me a prescription, but I got the feeling he thought I was in denial about the state of my dog. Actually, every vet made me feel this way. Every visit started off with a lot of sympathy and the usual speech about how it gets tough when they get old etc etc... So I go get the prescription and give him one right away. We do a few errands in the city, then go back out to the farm to let him run around. On our way home we stop by our local vet to allow him relieve himself again and are met with more sympathy and this time a warning about how the catheter can cause infection and irritation as well. So now we have something else to worry about. I just thought if we can give him the meds, we can bring him in every day if we have to for one week until they start kicking in. But now we have to monitor if he’s going to be able to handle that. We get home and I can’t sit still, so we go for a walk around the neighbourhood. He tries to pee, but can’t.

THURSDAY we get up, take his meds, and I go outside with him to watch him and he actually pees!!! 3x!! But then we go for a walk and it goes back to normal, trying to pee, but can’t. So we keep our vet appointment at 4:30 and take him in for his daily relief. A 4th doctor now, once again tells me it’s very unlikely he has an enlarged prostate since it is non-existent in neutered dogs. I tell him he’s getting slightly better, so maybe it’ll work anyways. He takes Max and we go outside to shake off all the negative energy every doctor seems to give me. When we come back in, the doctor says he examined Max (another finger in the bum, poor doggie!) and his prostate is normal size... He’s confused and so are we. They were going to get a copy of the x-ray from vet emerg and go from there, but we make an appointment for the next day again and have to head out to play that night. Max hangs out with us while we play since it was outside in a park... until another dog walked by that is. Did I mention how vocal he is? So into the van he goes, which is all fine for him since he loves the van and we put the fan on for him. It’s super comfortable and never gets too hot when the fan is on. At the end of the night I take him out and shout to Rob, “hey, look at his tail” - his tail had stopped curling up for the past month or so and it was curling right then so I pointed it out - and just as I said it, he lifted his leg and had a good full on pee. We went home and for a walk, and again another good pee. We had high hopes that his medicine worked in just a day and a half.

FRIDAY morning we popped his pill and headed outside to watch him pee. Totally normal again! We went for our daily stroll and everything seemed to be exactly as it was a few days prior except now his pooping is actually improved too and his curly tail is almost back. Still a little work to do on that, but it’s getting there. I imagine the muscle that lifts his tail would press on that spot where it was enlarged so he stopped lifting his tail like that. Anyways, he is a brand new dog again. He’s so fit and seemingly young - no one we meet believes he is 12 years old. He is a maniac and so active. I think this is partially why the drug must have worked so quickly on him. In the first 24 hours of him having the drug we went from dog park beforehand to farm, to walking around town at night and in the morning... got the blood moving just because we didn’t want to sit still and think about how awful the situation could be. We refused to give up hope on him, though every vet made me feel silly for thinking he would be back to his normal self in no time. Turns out I was right about it. And I’m not gloating over their professional opinion. I just know my dog. He’s healthy. There’s no reason for him to keel over. He is not sick. He just had a minor issue that could have been life threatening, but was no reason to give up on him instead of doing whatever it took to get him back to good health.

This put a lot into perspective for me and Rob. Sometimes I worry about money, not because we don’t have any, but because I come from a long line of worriers and that’s what we do. Sometimes I worry about our career and what we’ll be doing 5 years from now. Sometimes I worry about where we live... I worry about if that person took what I said the right way or if they think I’m a jerk now... that the government is controlling every aspect in our lives and there’s nothing we can do about it!!! lol I just worry. A lot. And when it comes down to it, there’s nothing to worry about. Everything will happen when it happens and if we’re unprepared because we went on one too many walks, then I guess that’s how it is. In the weeks prior to this we have been working on things from the moment we get up to when we finally have to go to bed because we can’t keep our eyes open anymore. We still go for our stroll everyday, but it was starting to not be a very fun existence just mixing every day or learning marketing and web design and everything else. All day, all night. We didn’t do any work this week whatsoever. I guess we played our shows, but nothing else. So now to find a balance and hope we can still achieve everything we’re hoping to; that’s the hard thing. I’m the kind where I’m all in. If I take a day off, I feel like I’m not putting enough into it and it’s going to fail. This was a pretty big reminder that life is short so spending all my time doing only one thing is not good. I just hope if I need another reminder it could come in a form that doesn’t affect anyone I love, specially Max The Dawg!!!